On the theme ‘Out of place’

Wooden pencils with eraser tops arranged parallelly and only one in horizontally, out of context, with space for text, on a purple background.

‘Out of place’ speaks to locale, to the physical characteristics of climate, soil, hydrology, landforms, geology and so forth, as well as the cultural, social, economic and political forces that have shaped food production, distribution and consumption at the level of place.

‘Out of place’ can also relate to ‘not of a place’, to not belonging and to food and foodways that no longer have a place at our tables. Introduced, and perhaps inappropriate species, customs and tastes, or newcomers, foreigners, refugees, ‘misfits’ and marginalised communities, including people who struggle to find their place in society are also ‘out of place’.

This interpretation of ‘out of place’ is not however always determinedly negative. Some actively seek to be ‘out of place’, disagreeing with the mores of their society and so valuing out of place-ness and difference.

This is a theme wildly open to creative interpretation. On one hand ‘out of place’ relates to home and the everyday; to tradition and connection; to foods and practices that are accepted, comforting and comfortable. But the traditional can also be old-fashioned, oppressive, xenophobic, unimaginative, restrictive and predictable.

Alternatively, ‘out of place’ can conjure the exotic, the adventurous and challenging, and suggest opportunities, alternatives and possibilities along with thoughts of dislocation and disruption, rebellion, pollution, contamination and discomfort.

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